Acquiring advanced Blackjack skills is a matter of great controversy and anything more than a basic Blackjack betting strategy can result in severe repercussions, such as being banned from the casino. We all remember the Hard Rock incident involving Ben Affleck, known for his passionate approach to gambling, especially Blackjack. Sadly, his skills have placed him on the casino’s Blackjack blacklist, but on the other hand, one can also attribute the whole affliction to the actor’s acting skills. It is pretty safe to assume that the same thing may not have happened to Robert De Niro…
The ethical right of the gambling facility to penalize the players for using their knowledge and set of strategy techniques that rest on their own numerical aptitude is questionable at best and we will refrain from the topic at the moment, with the exception of this banal, yet true observation: what the casino operators don’t know won’t bother them. The bottom line is that working on Blackjack betting strategy techniques and gradually evolving to become a highly proficient Blackjack player is worth every single second invested in practicing. And, just to be on the safe side, maybe grab a mirror and practice the “I’m-not-counting-cards-right-now” face as well.
Card Counting Software
Let us start with the type of help where you are not actually doing any work whatsoever. Learning how to count cards and even becoming so good at it that you can proceed to more evolved counting patterns is admirable, yet, not all of us are capable of doing it. Laugh all you want, but Numerophobia is real people! If like some of us, you get all flustered and sweaty at the very thought of adding two numbers together, which is pretty much what card counting is all about, you will be extremely happy to learn that you can still use the method – it will just not be you that’s counting!
There is a special corner on the market offering different versions of software that will do all the hard work for you. The package usually comes with a free trial version, several counting systems that you can choose from, optimal wager calculations, move suggestion feature, probability and statistics calculation, gameplay history etc. For those of you who are feeling intrigued, an extensive overview, as well as the software suggestions, can be found in our article What is the Best Blackjack Card Counting Software?
Basic Card Counting Methods
For the sake of objectivity, we would like to underline that you don’t have to be a Rain Man to figure out how to count cards. The difficult part is actually focusing and keeping track which is why most people resort to the above-mentioned software. However, keeping the card counting tool in your own head is a much safer and a more lasting option, which is why Blackjack experts would sooner recommend that you acquire the skill rather than buy it.
The basic structure of the simplest card counting form is called Hi-Lo and can be broken down into four stages:
- Stage One – assign values to the cards: 2 to 6 cards have a positive value (+1), cards 7 to 9 are neutral, while 10s, Aces, Queens, Queens and Jacks are negative (-1);
- Stage Two – as the dealer draws the cards from the shoe, start adding the values for the Running Count total;
- Stage Three – find the True Count by dividing the Running Count with the number of the remaining decks inside the shoe;
- Stage Four – decrease or increase your bets in accordance with the count total: press the bets when the count is positive and keep them at the table’s lower limit on the negative count.
Advanced Card Counting Techniques
The above-explained basic blackjack betting strategy is where you start and, for a lot of players, this can very well be the end of developing your blackjack skills. More ambitious players (for the lack of a better word) will be inspired to dig deeper and expand the potential that card counting offers.
One of the extremely popular techniques is Shuffle Tracking, a method that has everything to do with how casual the dealer is when shuffling the cards. It is only natural that the shuffling cannot be precise, especially when you have a table full of inpatient players who are eagerly awaiting for the technicalities to be out of the way so that betting can take place. This is exactly the weak spot Shuffle Trackers are looking for: the more sloppy and nonchalant the dealer gets when performing this tedious task, the more accurately are the cards being tracked. For the Shuffle Tracking to be employed, the player will already have to be a proficient card counter, since the method starts with the basic Hi-Lo system and tracking of 10s and Aces. High count total indicates that face cards and 10s are still in the shoe and the player continues to follow the card chunks with known values (Tracking Zones) as the dealer shuffles them.
Performed correctly, this method can gain the player over 50% advantage, especially if you are able to determine when Ace card is going to pop up. Ace sequencing will require a keen eye, since the player will need to remember 2 or 3 cards that covered the discarded Ace inside the tray. These are called the Key cards and they are actually forming the sequence that should be memorized and traced since they will precede the Ace card.
Alternatively, those of us who are somewhat braver and more skillful can monitor the tables from a distance and start betting only when they are certain about the odds – this is called Wonking and needless to say that it’s very easy to spot by the pit boss.
Another popular form of card counting is called Zen, a method which aims at creating a proportional pattern and can be categorized as a medium level strategy, suitable for those who have grown out of the basic card counting but are not quite ready to tackle strategies like Shuffle Tracking and Omega 2. The scheme acquired its name thanks to the equal number of positive and negative values and the balance this creates. You can find a more elaborate review of this counting method in our article Zen Count Blackjack Betting Strategy.
One extremely important thing that can never be overstated – have fun and play responsibly. As soon as you feel confident enough to flaunt your Blackjack skills, LeoVegas or US-friendly Bovada casino are both great platforms with Live Blackjack tables.